Hack a Toy

Take an old toy or toys and create a new way to play with them. Give it a name and a description or set of rules that help communicate what the toy is for.


A staggering amount of toys (and toy packaging) end up in landfills every year, and toy production has harmful environmental effects. Think about how many toys you’ve had, and how many you still actually play with.

But who’s to say those old action figures or board game parts can’t make something else fun?

How might you redesign an old toy for new play?

Parameters: You must use actual toys and they cannot be new. They can be damaged or undamaged, and can be any size. You can also use more than one toy, and even several different toys. You can redesign them for any other play purpose: make believe, a game, new characters, etc. Make sure to give your new toy a name and an explanation of what it is and how to use it.

Collect Info

Collect some old toys, either ones that belong to you, a family member (ask them first!) or a friend. Remember, they CANNOT be new!

Think about the following questions:

  • What toys do you still have around that you (or your family members) no longer use?
  • What kinds of toys get thrown out the most often?
  • What kinds of toys did you like to play with as a kid?
  • What category of play was your favorite? (Building? Make believe? Puzzles? Outside games? Board games? Word games?)
  • Look through these links for inspiration. What ideas are you inspired by?
  • Ask two other people about their favorite toys or games. What did they like about playing with those toys or games?

Upload your answers to the questions.

Brainstorm Ideas

Try the following to generate ideas:

  • Play around with the toys! What is interesting about how they:
    • Feel?
    • Look?
    • Sound?
    • Move?
  • Can you take a toy or toys from one category of play (for example, action figures), and turn it into another category of play (for example, a board game)? Do this a few different times!

Upload a list of five possible ideas for a repurposed toy. Each idea should include:

  • New name for the toy or game
  • Description of how to play or what it’s used for

Develop Solutions (and Get Feedback!)

Choose the idea you like the best.

Build a prototype or sketch of your redesigned toy, and include its name and a description of play or directions.

Next, show it to others for feedback. Here are some questions you can ask: 

What stands out to you about the toy or game?

What do you like about it?

What questions do you have about it?

What things do you think should be changed?

Who do you think would like this?

Upload a photo or file of your prototype, along with the feedback you received from at least one other person.

Final Design

Create your final toy design! Upload a photo or video, along with the toy’s name and directions or description of how to play. If possible, show someone playing with it!